The duties of being a bride, which seemed so exciting for others, felt heavy and difficult for me as a highly sensitive introvert.
“Can you imagine her wedding day?” my mom joked to my dad after packing a large heap of gifts into our 2003 Ford Windstar, following my Sweet 16 birthday bash.
It was a date I had been dreading for weeks and it was finally over. My 16-year-old self laughed anxiously at the thought of my wedding day, but exhaled knowing it was far away — I could hide from attention for at least another decade or two.
Simply put, since I was young, I could not handle being the center of attention (and I mean this in the most sincere, unpretentious way). As an introvert — and a highly sensitive one at that — the center of attention actually made me feel panicked, overwhelmed, and sick to my stomach.
When I turned sixteen, I’d felt pressure from my friends, and cheesy MTV shows, to throw a large extravaganza. My birthdate was the cut-off for my school district, and my parents kept me forward instead of holding me back. This resulted in my being the youngest person in my grade.
My friends wanted an excuse to have one last Sweet 16 during our junior year, since everyone else was already 16 by the end of sophomore year. I accepted the challenge, all the while knowing that hosting large parties was not my jam. I felt shame for being an introvert and not excited about having a Sweet 16 like the other girls. Plus, being a people-pleaser didn’t help.
Of course — what a mistake it had been: the anxiety, the all-eyes-on-me aspect, and all the people (did I mention I’d invited 70 people?!). Ughhh.
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From ‘Sweet 16’ Party to Bride-to-Be
Flash-forward nine years to my experience as an equally bashful bride, who’d since gotten better at masking her introverted tendencies and anxieties. It felt like a rebirth of my 16-year-old self, except I was even more nervous about the expectations of a 21st-century bride in a social-media-crazed world.
Plus, I come from a large family, so having a small number of guests and an intimate affair wasn’t an option. The duties of being a bride, which seemed so exciting for others, felt heavy and difficult for me for my highly sensitive, and introverted, soul.
And, you guessed it — once again, I shamed myself for it. I had a swarm of negative self-talk regarding my introverted nature leading up to, and on, the big day. Thoughts like this swirled around in my head:
How dare I not invite more people to my bridal shower.
I must make small talk with every single person who made a significant effort to come to the wedding — or else I am selfish and rude.
I didn’t once think about how I had the power of shaping my own wedding experience to be what I actually wanted it to be. I was too sensitive to the thoughts and opinions of others.
Looking back, my actual wedding day was truly incredible, and I did manage to talk to every single guest. But the day would have been even more incredible had I come to terms with my inner introvert — had I spoken my mind about my expectations for the day, not what others had expected of me.
I am here to help my fellow introverts (highly sensitive or not) not only survive their own wedding day, but enjoy it to their full capacity. Below are four ways to make your wedding spectacular, without the fear of displeasing people and exhausting your social battery.
Tips to Survive Your Wedding as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
1. Recite a mantra to remember the purpose and intention for the day.
Today is about promise and love between you and your partner. Not to send my fellow introverts into a panic but, yes, this day is about you! Enjoy that feeling for you. You and your partner deserve it. Embrace the love you feel when committing to your forever mate during the ceremony.
As for the reception, let’s be real here — a lot of the guests may only come for a night out and some quality booze. Remember that when you feel pressure to make an appearance at every table and please everyone from your Aunt Martha (who is walking around whining about the temperature inside the tent) to Uncle Abe (who calls you by your sister’s name and hasn’t been seen in over five years).
Again, the moment a thought of, “But I need to…” or “I have to…..” comes up, replace it with a mantra, a reminder of the actual purpose and intention for the day:
Today is about the love between me and [your partner].
I promise, repeating this mantra to yourself will help block out the noise.
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2. Get some alone time with your partner between the ceremony and reception.
For a lot of weddings, sometime between the ceremony and reception, there will be a cocktail hour. During this time, sneak away with your significant other and get some one-on-one time together. It is not rude — it is essential. And, besides, you will have plenty of time to mingle with guests the rest of the night.
Use this time to giggle together. Maybe you can laugh about the klutzy bridesmaid who spilled soda all over her dress or the out-of-tune guitarist who was strumming awkwardly during your walk down the aisle. Rest assured, there will be something to laugh at and help ease your nerves.
Find that moment and chuckle together upstairs in the bridal suite, or outside, away from the music and drinking (and people). I promise, this small, allotted alone time will help you recharge for the reception ahead. (You need to protect your energy as much as possible!)
3. Opt for a “sweetheart table” instead of one full of people.
At the reception, you will have two options — sit with your bridal party (and engage in a lot of small talk) or sit with your partner at a “sweetheart table.” I recommend you choose the latter.
Having your entire bridal party together at one table could be super overwhelming and overstimulating for highly sensitive introverts.
The sweetheart table is just for the two of you to enjoy dinner together. This option stays true with your intention for the day and core values as an introvert:
Today is about the love between me and [your partner].
4. Count to 10 to ground yourself when you feel overwhelmed.
Try to resist the feeling of counting the hours until the reception is over and when you can cuddle up with your significant other. I know, easier said than done. Instead, count to 10 whenever you start to feel overwhelmed. This way, you’ll take in the present moment. You can make the moment last while looking around and silently taking it in — all the people who came to celebrate your marriage, and so on.
Sometimes, highly sensitive introverts have a tendency to run away from these crowded moments. (Raises my hand — guilty!)
While it is okay to flee for some privacy — like during that loud cocktail hour — for the reception, I hope you challenge yourself to embrace your wedding and simmer in the moment for the entire 10 seconds. After all, your big day is worth enjoying.
Once you have counted, you can excuse yourself and run to the bathroom for a few minutes for some sacred alone time.